Sunday, July 20, 2014

Alternative accommodation - a delightful solution

In the current (Winter edition) of Get Up & Go magazine we have an article on Airbnb. There is some controversy around the company in the USA at the moment but we promote the concept as it is another way for travellers to experience up-close-and-personal local attractions and people. Get Up & Go is not endorsing the product but just sharing the various experiences.
                                             Rob & Ro Porter, from Victoria, Australia.
We interviewed a couple from Victoria, Rob and Ro Porter who do most of their accommodation stays with Airbnb as it suits their frequent travels all over the world. Following is Ro Porter's experience and advice on choosing this way to stay:

In our twenties, Rob and I were happy to be on the Hippy Trail of travel where accommodation had to be cheap and lively. Now, in our sixties, accommodation has greater priority but we still seek an atmosphere of vitality along with the ‘luxury’ of private bed, bath and sitting rooms.

Airbnb has been a delightful solution for us. Essentially we love the variety of excellent value accommodation we now access in fabulous locations. However, the most fabulous aspect for us is the interaction we enjoy with our ‘local’ hosts and hostesses. 

                                              Top: Apres dinner on Sardengne.
                                              Above: Best homemade jams in Provence.

Because we value the chance to be in special locations and to enjoy interaction with local people, we have developed this approach to using Airbnb.

When booking a place, we make sure we give a very quick description of why we are heading their way. There is always a lovely meeting-cum-handover-key time and if they have a feel for you and your travels, they are so happy to provide you with information and ideas to enhance your stay. As you can imagine, there is nothing better than getting a local to tell you the transport, dining and wining tips.

                                                   Studio in Montmartre.

If we are planning to stay for a week or longer, we look for somewhere that gives us access to our own kitchen and sitting room as well as the usual bed and bathroom. This sometimes means that our host/hostess leaves their apartment to us while they stay elsewhere.  This was our experience in Montmartre and it was perfect.  It could mean that we find ourselves in holiday rental apartments such as we did on Sardinia. If you take this option, be aware that out of season these can be somewhat desolate. Also, some commercial places use Airbnb. They are easy to spot from the booking site so you can avoid them. We found in places like Morocco they were often riads that were already listed in guide books. 

                                             Top: The Lighthouse and the family in Morocco.
                                             Above: A family gathering in Lisbon.

If we have a short stay, we find the traditional B+B style of being in the actual home with our host/hostess is good. Again, one gets the same lovely local information as well as private bathroom but the other spaces are shared. However, we have found that we appreciate the chance to meet and talk with family members.
Airbnb possibilities are everywhere: we have stayed in a lighthouse! If you have a hire car, make sure there is parking available. Remote locations are wonderful but do ensure you know if you need to be self-catering or if meals other than breakfast can be provided. Although the name Airbnb implies breakfast is provided, it is one of the wild cards we appreciate. Usually, if your host/hostess is on the premises, it is either wonderful or sublime. However, some are best described as interesting or adequate. Many times we have been invited to dinner with our hosts and hostess. Often, we have been given little tours or taken to enjoy a favourite site or activity. You just never know what will eventuate.

                                         On the beach in Dubai with our Airbnb apartment owner.

Finally, Airbnb is very efficient so bookings, payments and directions are painless. Do read the reviews before you book to get an idea of what is ahead of you. Trust your instincts: if it doesn’t sound like you, then don’t book it. Smart phones and tablets are useful so you always have your directions and contact details on hand.
Airbnb has meant we feel as though we have made new friends. Their quirks, foibles and generosity of spirit have made our travels something we live, rather than simply observe.

1 comment:

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